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To Medford belongs the honor of establishing the first fisheries in “London's plantation of Massachusetts Bay.” Careful and costly preparations for this business were made in England, in 1629, by Mr. Cradock, who believed it the most promising investment then offered from the New World. In the company's “first general letter,” under date of April 17, 1629, is indicated a course of trade which was to be pursued by the Medford fishermen. It is thus:--
We have sent five weigh of salt in the “Whelpe,” and ten weigh in the “Talbot.” If there be scallops to be had to fish withal, and the season of the year fit, pray let the fishermen (of which we send six from Dorchester), together with some of the ship's company, endeavor to take fish; and let it be well saved with the said salt, and packed up in hogsheads; and send it home by the “Talbot” or “ Lion's Whelpe.”

At the same time they send “a seine, being a net to fish with.” May 28, 1629, they say,--

We send salt, lines, hooks, knives, boots, &c., for the fishermen, desiring our men may be employed in harbor, or upon the Bank. If you send ships to fish on the Bank, and expect them not to return again to the plantation, &c.

By this it appears that those vessels which had caught a cargo of fish “on the Bank” were expected to take them thence to London. Sept. 3, 1635, the General Court chose a committee of six “for setting forward and managing a fishing trade.” That fishing was profitable, we have the following early record: “Thirty-five ships sailed this year (1622) from the west of England, and two from London, to fish on the New England coasts; and made profitable voyages.” Through the instrumentality of our fishing interest, the General Court passed the following order. May 22, 1639: “For further encouragement of men to set upon fishing, it is ordered, that such ships and vessels and other stock as shall be properly employed and adventured in taking, making, and transporting of fish according to the course of fishing voyages, and the fish itself, shall be exempt, for seven years from henceforth, from all country charges.” To show how minute was the fostering care of our fathers on this point, we have the following order of June 2, 1641: “It is ordered ”

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Mathew Cradock (2)
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Talbot (1)
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